Crown Pilot Crackers

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Crown Pilot Crackers
Place of originUnited States
Region or stateNew England
Created byJohn Pearson

Crown Pilot was a brand of cracker popular in much of New England in the United States. It was manufactured by Nabisco (a subsidiary of Kraft Foods as of 2000) until it was discontinued in the first quarter of 2008. The cracker was unsalted, and closely related to the food "hardtack". The crackers were an important ingredient in historical recipes of clam chowder[1] and a staple in many New England pantries.


The Crown Pilot cracker is Nabisco's oldest recipe, which was acquired with their purchase of a bakery in Newburyport, Massachusetts. The recipe was originally created by John Pearson of Newburyport[2] in 1792 for producing seagoing biscuits.[1][3]

The cracker was discontinued once before in 1996 by Nabisco. This sparked the publicized protests of Donna Damon on Chebeague Island and Maine humorist Tim Sample, which eventually led to an episode of CBS News Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood covering the events.[1] Shortly after this, the company resumed production in 1997 after complaints.

Production of Crown Pilot crackers was ended again by Kraft in 2008, reportedly due to drops in the sales of the product since the 1990s.[3] According to the Kraft spokeswoman, Laurie Guzzinati, demand for the crackers was half of what it was 12 years earlier, with about 241,000 pounds sold in 1996.[4]

The crackers are an important ingredient in many New England recipes for seafood stuffings, chowders, and soups[4] as well as in many recipes of the Canadian Maritimes and Newfoundland and Labrador including fish and brewis.


  1. ^ a b c Oliver, Sandy (April 2008), The Crown Pilot Cracker Escapade: 11 Years Later, The Working Waterfront
  2. ^ Wallace, Kurt J. (1997), Fine Kettles of Fish: A Treasury of Seafood Chowders, Bisques, Soups & Stews, The Peninsula Press, ISBN 978-1-883684-15-0
  3. ^ a b Nacelewicz, Tess (May 23, 2008), Seafood chowder loses its crunchy companion, Portland Press Herald & Maine Sunday Telegram
  4. ^ a b Zezima, Katie (June 11, 2008), A Missing Staple Puts Many a Maine Chowder Recipe in Jeopardy, The New York Times